Michael Faraday’s Mental Exercises

BookMichael Faraday’s Mental Exercises

Michael Faraday’s Mental Exercises

An Artisan Essay-Circle in Regency London

Liverpool English Texts and Studies, 51


June 1st, 2008

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In 1818 Michael Faraday and a handful of other London artisans formed a self-help group with the aim of teaching themselves to write like gentlemen. For a year and a half Faraday’s essay-circle met regularly to read aloud and criticise one another’s writings. The ‘Mental Exercises’ they produced are a record of the life, literary tastes and social and political ideas of Dissenting artisans in Regency London. This book is the first to publish the essays and poems produced by Faraday’s circle. The complete corpus of the essay-circle’s writings is accompanied by detailed annotations, extracts from key sources and a full-length introduction explaining the biographical, historical and literary context of the group. This edition will be valuable not only for historians of Romantic and Victorian science, but for literary scholars and historians working on early nineteenth-century writing, reading and class issues, and for all readers interested in the development of the mind of a great scientist.


Author Information

Alice Jenkins is Senior Lectuer in English at the University of Glasgow and Chair of the British Society for Literature and Science.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Title Page3
Faraday and style15
Organizing the essay-circle21
Writing the Mental Exercises32
Reading in the Mental Exercises43
Note on editorial policy51
Part One: The ‘Mental exercises’53
List of Members and Scribes’ Rota53
Members’ Agreement54
On Study55
On Honour60
On Argument63
On Imagination and Judgement65
On General Character73
On the Pleasures and Uses of the Imagination76
On Politeness82
The Charms of Sleep89
Friendship & Charity91
An Ode to the PASS96
Garreteer’s Epistle102
A Mathematical Love Letter103
On seeing a Rose in the Possession of a Lady at the SMHPABNASL106
On Courage107
Irritus to the Manager112
Marriage is Honourable in All113
On Mind and the Duty of Improving It121
A word for Page 73132
On the Early Introduction of Females to Society132
On prematurely Forming Opinion of Characters135
On the Death of the Princess Charlotte138
On Conscious Approbation142
The Origin of a Critic—A Fable143
Reflections on Death146
On Avarice149
On Tradesmen150
On Laws157
On the Changes of the mind158
On Marriage161
On Calumny162
Letter to the Secretary163
On Marriage166
Effeminacy & Luxury168
A Brother’s Letter to Mr. Deeble170
Junius & Tullia170
A Ramble to Melincourt174
On Triflers176
139th Psalm180
At a Village on the Dunchurch Road184
Part Two: Contexts188
Faraday and self-education188
Faraday, from the Correspondence (1812–16)188
Faraday, from Observations on the Means of Obtaining Knowledge (1817)193
Faraday, from ‘Observations on the Inertia of the Mind’ (1818)201
Faraday’s indexes to eighteenth-century periodicals212
Faraday, from ‘Observations on Mental Education’ (1854)214
The improvement of the Mind227
Isaac Watts, from The Improvement of the Mind (1741)227
Samuel Johnson, from The Rambler (1751)231
Thomas Williams, from The Moral Tendencies of Knowledge (1815)234
Isaac Taylor, from Self-Cultivation Recommended: Or, Hints to a Youth Leaving School (1817)236
From The Black Dwarf (1819)238
Mary Shelley, from Frankenstein (1818)240
Henry Brougham, from Practical Observations upon the Education of the People (1825)247
The Pleasures of the imagination253
Joseph Addison, from The Spectator (1712)253
Mark Akenside, from The Pleasures of the Imagination (1744)256